Biden Congratulates Japan’s New PM Fumio Kishida

File photo:  Fumio Kishida, former foreign minister, poses for a photo following a press conference after being elected as the new leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo on September 29, 2021. Du Xiaoyi / POOL / AFP

 

US President Joe Biden offered his congratulations Monday to Japan’s new Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, saying the “historic partnership” between the two nations will help them face the world’s ongoing challenges.

“The US-Japan Alliance is the cornerstone of peace, security, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific and the world, and I look forward to working closely with Prime Minister Kishida to strengthen our cooperation in the months and years ahead,” Biden said in a statement.

“The historic partnership between our two democracies and our two peoples will continue to be a critical asset as we work together to take on the challenges of our time.”

The 64-year-old Kishida, a soft-spoken centrist in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), easily won Monday’s vote in the Japanese parliament approving him to lead the world’s third largest economy.

He succeeds former prime minister Yoshihide Suga, who had announced he would not stand for the LDP leadership after just one year in office.

Biden said he commended Suga “for a successful tenure.”

AFP

6.1-Magnitude Quake Hits Japan

File Photo: Japan on the map

 

A 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck off Japan’s northwestern coast on Wednesday but no tsunami warning was issued, Japanese and US authorities said.

The quake produced shaking across a large swath of the northeastern coast and was also felt in Tokyo, but there were no immediate reports of damage.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake hit at a depth of 368 kilometres (228 miles) in the Sea of Japan, known as the East Sea in Korea.

READ ALSO: Manny Pacquiao Quits Boxing With Presidency In Sight

Japan’s meteorological agency said there was no tsunami risk following the jolt.

Japan sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.

The country is regularly hit by quakes, and has strict construction regulations intended to ensure buildings can withstand strong tremors.

AFP

‘I’ll Feel Bad If APC Doesn’t Give Southeast An Opportunity’ – Weekly Quotes

 

The passing week has been a very eventful one globally with the world still battling COVID-19 and trying to adjust to the new reality.

Nigeria is never left a week without drama, as events continue to take different turns, leading the authorities to take certain drastic actions that got tongues wagging.

Having reviewed most of the major stories from the passing week, both locally and on the foreign scene, here are top quotes that tend to paint a vivid picture of what transpired and perhaps give us a hint of some things we must expect in the coming days:

1. “If I follow APC for this length of time, and they don’t give the Southeast an opportunity, I will feel bad.”

A file photo of Ebonyi Sate Governor, Dave Umahi. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television
A file photo of Ebonyi Sate Governor, Dave Umahi. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, says he will feel bad if the All Progressives Congress (APC) does not give the South-East a chance at the presidency, come 2023.

2. “I remain committed to his agenda for our great Nation and shall continue to support him in any way possible.”

A file photo of the former Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, at his office in Abuja. Photo: Twitter- @EngrSMamman

 

Former Minister of Power, Sale Mamman, declares his support for the Muhammadu Buhari administration following his sack by the President.

3. “Today at the executive meeting, (party) president Suga said he wants to focus his efforts on anti-coronavirus measures and will not run in the leadership election.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga leaves at the end of an extraordinary Diet session at the Upper House of parliament in Tokyo on September 17, 2020. / AFP / Behrouz MEHRI

 

Secretary General of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Toshihiro Nikai, reveals that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will not run for re-election as party leader in September.

4. “The sooner the Taliban will enter the family of civilised people, so to speak, the easier it will be to contact, communicate, and somehow influence and ask questions.”

File photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during the opening ceremony of the International Military-Technical Forum “Army-2021” held in the Patriot Park, in Kubinka outside Moscow on August 23, 2021. (Photo by Ramil SITDIKOV / SPUTNIK / AFP)

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he hopes the Taliban will behave in a “civilised” manner in Afghanistan so the global community can maintain diplomatic ties with Kabul.

5. “I am the landlord, I didn’t give myself, the constitution gave me that power.”

A file photo of Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/ChannelsTV
A file photo of Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku. Photo: Sodiq Adelakun/ChannelsTV

 

Taraba State Governor, Darius Ishaku issues a stern warning to residents of the Mambilla Plateau, urging them not to sell lands to “selfish politicians” who storm the area in order to benefit from compensations meant for the Mambilla hydroelectric power project site.

6. “The report of the audit committee showed that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects in the Niger Delta and even before the submission of the report, some contractors have returned to site on their own and completed about 77 road projects.”

A file photo of the Niger Delta Development Commission headquarters building in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
A file photo of the Niger Delta Development Commission headquarters building in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

 

The Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Senator Godswill Akpabio says the Forensic Audit Report of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) indicates that there are over 13,000 abandoned projects within the coastal region.

7. “Nigeria has 10.6 million cannabis users, this is the highest in the world, isn’t it sad?”

File photo of NDLEA Chairman, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (rtd)

 

Since January 2021, drugs worth over ₦100 billion have been seized and about 1,630 criminals arrested by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, says Brig. Gen Buba Marwa.

8. “The principle would be a grouping of qualifiers every year, and at the end of the season a major competition, World Cup or continental championship.”

Arsenal’s former coach Arsene Wenger was named FIFA’s world football development director, the Zurich-based body said on November 13, 2019. Ozan KOSE / AFP

 

Former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger calls for World Cup to be held every two years in an interview with French sports daily L’Equipe.

9. “This is to confirm to you that suspected kidnappers at about 06:45hrs along Lagos-Benin expressway, by Isuwa, kidnapped five unidentified persons and in the process shot to death one Sowore Felix Olajide, male, a pharmacy student of Igbinedion University, Okada.”

The late Olajide Sowore.

 

The Edo State Police Command confirms the murder of Olajide Sowore, brother to Sahara Reporters Publisher, Omoyele Sowore by suspected kidnappers.

10. “The trajectory into the future is bright. If you see some of the things we have been able to do under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to exit recession in record time, most established democracies are still battling with the recession.”

A file photo of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
A file photo of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

 

Despite the current challenges facing Nigeria, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, is optimistic that the nation’s trajectory is good.

11. “For us to reach the level of development that we need in our country, every part, segment and strata of the society must have a developed, deliberately focused leadership, so that what we do at the local level compliments what we do at the state level and from there, terminating at the apex – at the Federal level.”

Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, briefs reporters after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja on June 24, 2021.

 

Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, attributes leadership deficit as one of the factors preventing Nigeria from achieving sustainable economic growth and development, and addressing insecurity and other socioeconomic problems.

12. “We apologize to anyone who may have seen these offensive recommendations.”

In this file illustration photo taken on March 25, 2020, a Facebook app logo is displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file illustration photo taken on March 25, 2020, a Facebook app logo is displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

Facebook apologizes and disables its topic recommendation feature after it mistook Black men for “primates” in video at the social network.

13. “The committee is to identify grazing routes and work with states and map them. It is not to recover grazing routes, it is to identify the scale of the problem.”

Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu appeared on Channels Television’s Politics Today on September 2, 2021. Sodiq Adelakun/Channels Television

 

Kebbi State Governor Atiku Bagudu, argues that mapping out grazing routes will help to identify the scale of the herder-farmer crisis.

14. “Police have located the man and he has been shot. He has died at the scene.”

New Zealand flag.

 

Authorities in New Zealand speak after police shoot dead a man who wounded six people in an attack at an Auckland supermarket.

15. “You come with what you know how to do best.”

A screengrab of Ric Hassani during an interview with Channels TV’s “Sunrise”.

 

Pop singer, Ric Hassani, reveals why his sound differs from the normal “Nigerian music” sound.

16. “He asked me what I was willing to do for music.”

 

In bombshell testimony, a 32-year-old man says he became associated with Kelly’s entourage and pleaded guilty in 2021 to attempting to bribe a woman who would potentially testify against the musician.

17. “What has happened is largely a repeat of the things we have seen in the past.”

Chairman of the Northern Governors' Forum, Mr Simon Lalong made an appearance on Channels Television on February 9, 2021.
Chairman of the Northern Governors’ Forum, Mr Simon Lalong .

 

A former member of the House of Representatives, Bitrus Kaze, says the Governor Simon Lalong-led administration has not done enough to change the dynamics of the conflict in Plateau State and secure the lives of the people.

18. “If you look at the President’s statement, in no place will you see that; not at all. In no place will you see those words that performance was weak, he didn’t say that.”

A combination of file photos of Mr Mohammed Nanono and Mr Saleh Mamman.

 

President Buhari’s media adviser, Femi Adesina, makes clarifications regarding the sacking of two ministers.

19.  “Well, it happened because, perhaps for the first time in the history of the country, and of the NNPC, there is a President who is not using the place like a personal Automated Teller Machine (ATM).”

The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today on October 23, 2020.

 

The Media Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari, Femi Adesina, explains why the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recently declared profit.

Japan PM Suga To Step Down, Says Party

File photo:  Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga leaves at the end of an extraordinary Diet session at the Upper House of parliament in Tokyo on September 17, 2020. / AFP / Behrouz MEHRI

 

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Friday he will not run for re-election as party leader this month, effectively ending his tenure after just one year, his party’s secretary general said.

Suga announced his intention to resign at an emergency meeting of senior members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), Toshihiro Nikai told reporters.

“Today at the executive meeting, (party) president Suga said he wants to focus his efforts on anti-coronavirus measures and will not run in the leadership election,” Nikai said.

“Honestly, I’m surprised. It’s truly regrettable. He did his best but after careful consideration, he made this decision,” he added.

The shock announcement comes with Suga’s approval ratings at an all-time low over his government’s handling of the response to the pandemic.

But it was a decision that had not been foreshadowed, with Suga dropping no hints of his plans to leave office after just a single year in power and before contesting his first general election.

He came to office last year, stepping into the post left empty when Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe resigned for health reasons.

Suga had been widely expected to seek reelection as LDP leader in a vote set for September 29, with most speculation surrounding only how soon after that he would call a general election.

READ ALSO: US Supreme Court Refuses To Block Texas Law Banning Most Abortions

US Student Shot Dead At High School
Death Toll In New York Storm Rises To At Least 13: Officials 

The election must be called by late October, and the LDP is expected to remain in power but possibly lose seats as a result of Suga’s unpopularity.

His government’s approval rating has nosedived to an all-time low of 31.8 percent according to a poll by the Kyodo news agency last month.

And recent reports about his plans for a cabinet reshuffle, as an attempt to remedy his unpopularity, appeared to be insufficient.

Suga has been battered by his government’s response to the pandemic, with Japan struggling through a record fifth wave of the virus after a slow start to its vaccine programme.

Much of the country is currently under virus restrictions, and the measures have been in place in some areas for almost the entire year.

But they have been insufficient to stop a surge in cases driven by the more contagious Delta variant, even as the vaccine programme has picked up pace with nearly 43 percent of the population fully inoculated.

Japan has recorded nearly 16,000 deaths during the pandemic.

The 72-year-old Suga’s election as prime minister last year capped a lengthy political career.

Before taking the top office he served in the prominent role of chief cabinet secretary, and he had earned a fearsome reputation for wielding his power to control Japan’s sprawling and powerful bureaucracy.

The son of a strawberry farmer and a schoolteacher, Suga was raised in rural Akita in northern Japan and put himself through college after moving to Tokyo by working at a factory.

He was elected to his first office in 1987 as a municipal assembly member in Yokohama outside Tokyo, and entered parliament in 1996.

AFP

Heavy Rains: Nearly Two Million Urged To Seek Shelter In Japan

A flooded street is seen in Saga city on August 14, 2021, as torrential rain triggered floods and landslides in western Japan. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP
A flooded street is seen in Saga city on August 14, 2021, as torrential rain triggered floods and landslides in western Japan. STR / JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

Nearly two million people were urged to seek shelter as torrential rain triggered floods and landslides in western Japan on Saturday, leaving at least one dead and three missing.

Authorities in seven regions, mainly in the northern part of Kyushu island, issued their highest evacuation alert as the weather agency reported unprecedented levels of rain in the area.

Under the non-compulsory alert, more than 1.8 million residents have been asked to leave their homes immediately, according to public broadcaster NHK.

TV footage showed rescuers towing residents through submerged streets on a lifeboat in the town of Kurume in Fukuoka, while a man who was rescued in neighbouring Saga prefecture said he had never seen rain like it.

“This situation is different,” he told NHK. “I’ve had a similar experience before, but (this time) I was scared.”

The government said 14 rivers had burst their banks and 14 landslides had occurred, mainly in western Japan.

A 59-year-old woman died and two of her family members were missing after a landslide destroyed two houses in Unzen, Nagasaki, a local official said.

“More than 150 troops, police and firefighters were dispatched to the site for rescue operations,” Takumi Kumasaki told AFP.

“They are carefully searching for the missing residents, while watching out for further mudslides as the heavy rain continues.”

A 76-year-old man was also missing in Kumamoto after he tried to secure his fishing boat at a surging river, a regional official told AFP.

Downpours are forecast for several more days over a large swathe of the country.

Scientists say climate change is intensifying the risk of heavy rain in Japan and elsewhere, because a warmer atmosphere holds more water.

“Unprecedented levels of heavy rain have been observed,” Yushi Adachi, a meteorological agency official, told reporters in Tokyo.

“It’s highly likely that some kind of disaster has already occurred,” Adachi said.

“The maximum alert is needed even in areas where risks of landslides and flooding are usually not so high.”

Strong rain last month caused a devastating landslide in the central resort town of Atami that killed 23 people, with four still missing.

And in 2018, floods and landslides killed more than 200 people in western Japan during the country’s annual rainy season.

 

AFP

Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs Wins First Post-Bolt Olympic 100m Gold

 

Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs outshone a field of unusual suspects to claim a shock Olympic gold in the men’s 100 metres on Sunday, breaking retired Jamaican star Usain Bolt’s 13-year hold on the blue riband event.

Jacobs, 26, timed a European record of 9.80 seconds, with American Fred Kerley taking silver in 9.84sec in one of the most understated major championship 100m races of recent times.

Canada’s Andre de Grasse, a bronze medallist at the 2016 Rio Games, repeated the feat in 9.89sec.

The athletes were introduced in a dramatic light show — the stadium floodlights were shut off and 12 projectors cast 3D images of the world, zooming in to the Tokyo skyline, and then the name of each sprinter.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Enoch Adegoke Storms Into 100m Final At #Tokyo2020

The lights came back on, swiftly followed by a horrendous false start for Zharnel Hughes in lane four, the Anguilla-born Briton not even bothering to question his disqualification.

Dressed in light blue singlet and lycra shorts, the US-born Jacobs, in lane three, made a good start, held his nerve through the drive phase, and powered through to the line.

Jacobs joyously ran into the arms of Italian teammate Gianmarco Tamberi, who had just shared gold in the men’s high jump and was waiting at the finish line.

The race, run in stifling temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius (84 Fahrenheit), had a distinctly underwhelming build-up and feel to it as hot favourite Trayvon Bromell bombed out of the semi-finals in which China’s Su Bingtian and Jacobs unexpectedly set Asian and European records respectively.

The Tokyo Olympics are the first since Athens in 2004 to take place without Bolt, who went on to win three consecutive Olympic 100m titles in Beijing, London and Rio de Janeiro, as well as three straight 200m crowns.

And for the first time since the 2000 Sydney Games, there was no Jamaican in the final, Bolt’s long-time former teammate Yohan Blake failing to qualify from his semi-final.

The field was instead filled with a raft of relatively unknown sprinters, with Jacobs’ main claim to fame a European 60m indoor title earlier this year.

The 100m in Tokyo, and the circus around it, has arguably been a pale imitation of Bolt’s glory years during which the charismatic Jamaican not only dominated the sprints but also captivated a truly global audience.

While the spectacle that Bolt brought to the blue riband event has been missing since his retirement in 2017, so also has been the emergence of a new generation of sprinting hopes.

Many have been lauded as the athlete to fill Bolt’s spikes, but no one has yet lived up to the considerable weight of expectation.

Added to that, the 68,000-capacity Olympic Stadium in Tokyo had no cheering fans because of coronavirus restrictions in the Japanese capital.

Instead, there were sparse pockets of athletes and team officials who did their best to create something of an atmosphere at what is normally one of the most widely anticipated events of the entire Games, commanding a huge worldwide television audience.

AFP

‘This One Sucks’ – Tennis Star Osaka Suffers Home Olympic Shock

Japan’s Naomi Osaka leaves the court after being beaten by Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova during their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s singles third round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

 

 

 

Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka’s dreams of home Olympic gold were crushed by a 6-1, 6-4 defeat to Marketa Vondrousova Tuesday as her return to action came to an abrupt end.

Osaka, who lit the Olympic cauldron and was one of the faces of the Games, struggled in an error-strewn display that blew the draw wide open after the earlier exits of world number one Ashleigh Barty and third seed Aryna Sabalenka.

“How disappointed am I? I mean, I’m disappointed in every loss, but I feel like this one sucks more than the others,” said the four-time Grand Slam-winner.

Asked what went wrong, she replied: “Everything — if you watch the match then you would probably see. I feel like there’s a lot of things that I counted on that I couldn’t rely on today.”

The third-round defeat follows a turbulent few months for Osaka, who abandoned her French Open campaign in May after refusing to attend press conferences, citing the need to preserve her mental health.

 

Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova leaves the court after beating Japan’s Naomi Osaka in their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s singles third round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

 

Osaka also skipped Wimbledon, saying she had been battling depression and anxiety, before returning in Tokyo for her first Olympics including her starring role at the opening ceremony.

“I definitely feel like there was a lot of pressure for this. I think it’s maybe because I haven’t played in the Olympics before and for the first year (it) was a bit much,” said Osaka.

After looking assured in the first two rounds after her eight-week hiatus, Osaka made a dreadful start under the centre court roof at a rain-hit Ariake Tennis Park and never recovered.

“I’ve taken long breaks before and I’ve managed to do well. I’m not saying that I did bad right now, but I do know that my expectations were a lot higher,” she said.

“I feel like my attitude wasn’t that great because I don’t really know how to cope with that pressure so that’s the best that I could have done in this situation.”

 

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka competes against Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova during their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s singles third round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

– Slow start spells the end –
Osaka dropped serve in the opening game and was broken twice more as the 42nd-ranked Vondrousova raced away with the first set.

The second seed broke in the second set but relinquished the early advantage with a double fault that allowed Vondrousova to level at two games apiece.

The 23-year-old grappled with inconsistency, and even when given a sniff of regaining the initiative she had no response to Vondrousova’s array of crafty drop shots.

Osaka saved two match points as she served to stay alive at 4-5 but Vondrousova converted at the third time of asking as the Japanese superstar smacked a backhand wide.

Vondrousova will go on to face Spain’s Paula Badosa or Nadia Podoroska of Argentina in the quarter-finals.

“Of course it’s one of the biggest wins of my career,” said Vondrousova, the 2019 French Open runner-up.

“Naomi is a great player, she has so many Grand Slams, so I knew it would be a tough match. I’m very happy with my play.

“I played amazingly in the first set, and then the second set was really tough. I’m just happy to be through.”

Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina is the highest-ranked women’s player remaining in Tokyo.

 

Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova (L) shakes hands with Japan’s Naomi Osaka after winning their Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s singles third round tennis match at the Ariake Tennis Park in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)

 

Earlier Stefanos Tsitsipas advanced to the men’s third round as he avenged last month’s Wimbledon loss to Frances Tiafoe.

The Greek third seed downed American Tiafoe 6-3, 6-4 in the opening match of the day as all play on outside courts was delayed an hour by morning drizzle.

Tsitsipas, who is also entered in mixed doubles with Maria Sakkari, will play France’s Ugo Humbert or Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Having lost to Tiafoe in the opening round at Wimbledon, Tsitsipas ensured there was no repeat as a single break in each set enabled him to wrap up victory in 77 minutes.

Japan’s Nishiya, 13, Becomes One Of Youngest Gold Medal Winners In Olympic History 

Japan’s Momiji Nishiya celebrates after performing a trick during the skateboarding women’s street final of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Sports Park in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. PHOTO: Jeff PACHOUD / AFP

 

Japan’s Momiji Nishiya became one of the youngest individual Olympic champions in history when she won the inaugural women’s skateboarding gold at the age of 13 years and 330 days on Monday.

Nishiya finished ahead of Brazil’s Rayssa Leal — who at 13 years and 203 days could have become the youngest ever individual Olympic champion — and Japan’s Funa Nakayama, 16.

Nishiya starred in the tricks section to score 15.26 and give the hosts a clean sweep of the street discipline as skateboarding makes its Olympic debut.

Her performance mirrored that of Japan teammate Yuto Horigome, who won the men’s title with a stunning sequence of tricks on Sunday.

Japan’s Momiji Nishiya poses with her gold medal during the podium ceremony of the skateboarding women’s street final of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Sports Park in Tokyo on July 26, 2021. PHOTO: Jeff PACHOUD / AFP

 

“I’m so glad to become the youngest (Japanese gold medallist) at my first Olympics… tears came to my eyes,” Nishiya told reporters after receiving her medal.

Skaters each have two 45-second runs on the equipment and five shots at a one-off trick. Their best four scores out of the seven make up their final total.

“I was nervous on the first run but I was not nervous later,” Nishiya said, adding that she wants to claim a second gold at the Paris Olympics in 2024.

But first, to celebrate her victory, she will “go and eat at a beef barbeque restaurant”.

Skateboarding is one of four sports making their debut in Tokyo, along with surfing, sport climbing and karate as part of an attempt to bring the Olympics to younger audiences.

US diver Marjorie Gestring remains the youngest individual Olympic champion after winning the 3m springboard at the 1936 Berlin Games at 13 years and 268 days.

Philippine finalist Margielyn Didal, 22, missed out on a medal but said competing in Tokyo was a “really, really big achievement” for her.

Having started skateboarding a decade ago in the streets of Cebu city, Didal burst onto the scene in 2018 with an Asian Games gold.

Didal said she would call her parents, a carpenter and a street vendor, to hear their reaction.

“I know that they’re proud of me,” she told reporters.

AFP

Osaka In Olympic Spotlight, But Biracial Japanese Face Struggles

Japan’s Naomi Osaka looks on at Ariake Tennis Park ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

 

Emili Omuro was thrilled by Naomi Osaka’s star turn at the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony, but the biracial teenager says Japan must do more to accept people of mixed heritage.

Four-time Grand Slam winner Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and father Haitian, climbed a replica Mount Fuji on Friday to light the cauldron in the ceremony’s crowning moment.

And she wasn’t the only athlete of dual heritage representing the host.

Japanese-Beninese NBA basketball star Rui Hachimura was one of the flagbearers leading Japan’s team into the Olympic Stadium.

Osaka and Hachimura are adored in Japan, and boast lucrative sponsorship and advertising deals.

But many young people of black and Japanese heritage still struggle in an often conservative and largely homogenous society.

“There were many times when it was hard,” 14-year-old Omuro, born to a Japanese mother and a black American father, told AFP of her childhood in a town north of Tokyo.

“People would whisper behind my back and make fun of me at extra-curricular clubs, or when I was walking down the street.”

Looking to draw attention to the bullying and discrimination faced by some biracial Japanese, Omuro applied and was chosen to be a torchbearer in the nationwide Olympic flame relay before the Games.

She also hoped to highlight the country’s increasing but often overlooked racial diversity.

“Some people say, ‘for mixed people, bullying is inevitable.’ And other people don’t know there is discrimination, or pretend not to see it,” she said.

 

Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka holds the Olympic Torch before lighting the flame of hope in the Olympic Cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by HANNAH MCKAY / POOL / AFP)

 

An overview shows Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka standing after lighting the flame of hope in the Olympic Cauldron during the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, at the Olympic Stadium, in Tokyo, on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Antonin THUILLIER / AFP)

 

– ‘Ignorance, not hate’ –
When coronavirus measures began to force sections of the relay off public roads, Omuro reconsidered taking part, worried about the pandemic.

But she ultimately decided her participation would be important.

“We need to create a society where people can feel at ease, even if they are different.”

Kinota Braithwaite is painfully aware of how discrimination can affect Japanese biracial children.

The black Canadian’s daughter Mio, whose mother is Japanese, suffered racist taunts in second grade in Tokyo.

“This happened to me when I was a kid growing up in Canada, and I thought that the world was a place where this wouldn’t happen any more,” he told AFP.

“So it really broke my heart.”

This year, he published a children’s book called “Mio The Beautiful” about his daughter’s experience.

And he gives talks in schools to raise awareness of an issue that he says Japanese teachers are often not equipped to handle.

Braithwaite, a teacher himself, sees discrimination in Japan as largely driven by “ignorance, not hate”.

Athletes like Osaka and Hachimura give his two children “role models”, he said.

And the pair are huge fans — “My son has a Rui Hachimura water bottle, he has his hair cut like Rui, he plays basketball,” he laughed.

“For Japanese people, it sort of opens their eyes too, which is a good thing.”

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka uses a camera at Ariake Tennis Park ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo on July 23, 2021. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

 

– Representation ‘does matter’ –
Japan remains a largely homogenous society.

An analysis of government data by Kyodo News agency found just 20,000 of 1.02 million babies born in 2014 had Japanese and non-Japanese parents.

And only recently has the image of mixed Japanese started to include those with black heritage, said Sayaka Osanami Torngren, associate professor of international migration and ethnic relations at Malmo University in Sweden.

“Historically, mixed persons have always existed (in Japan), but the image of mixed persons has always been white or Caucasian and Japanese,” said Torngren.

Now, more people of black and Japanese or mixed Asian heritage are “raising their voices and addressing their experiences of discrimination or racism”.

Even stars like Washington Wizards power forward Hachimura and Osaka are not immune to racist language and tone-deaf depictions.

In 2019, Osaka’s sponsor Nissin Foods was accused of “whitewashing” over an animated advert depicting the 23-year-old with light skin, and a Japanese comedy duo apologised after joking she was “too sunburned” and needed “bleach”.

Hachimura meanwhile revealed this year that he receives racist messages “almost every day”.

“There are people who say there is no racism in Japan,” wrote his brother Aren Hachimura, posting a hateful message he received online.

“But I want people to pay attention to the issue of racism.”

So seeing Hachimura and Osaka represent Japan on the global stage is important, said Torngren.

“Even though it might be token, it does matter.”

 

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on July 20, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka attends a training session at the Ariake Tennis Park ahead of the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. – Defending champion Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open due to mental issues and skipped Wimbledon, and Roger Federer, who missed the Olympics with a knee injury, were named July 21, 2021 to the US Open tennis field. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP)

Olympic Athletes Infected As Covid Travel Woe Hits Europe

The Olympic Rings are pictured in front of the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on March 21, 2020, as doubts increase over whether Tokyo can safely host the summer Games amid the spread of the COVID-19. Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP.

 

Two athletes became the first to test positive for the coronavirus in the Tokyo Olympic Village, officials said Sunday, as new border rules in Europe caused last-minute travel frustration.

Less than a week before the Olympics is due to begin, the cases will heighten concerns over the event.

Organisers have described the Games as the world’s “most restrictive sports event”, but it faces opposition in Japan over fears it will bring new infections to a country already battling a surge.

A daily tally of new cases revealed two athletes tested positive in the Village and one elsewhere. They come a day after an unidentified person, who was not a competitor, became the first case in the village.

Britain is also facing a backlash over its decision to exclude France from its new looser entry policies — vaccinated returning UK residents will still have to quarantine for 10 days, unlike in other “amber” countries.

“I’m a doctor so I understand the health issues very well, but this doesn’t make any sense,” said Maud Lemoine, a London-based doctor who is visiting France.

And France’s government drew ire after announcing that unvaccinated visitors from Britain and several other European countries must show a negative Covid test taken within 24 hours of departure rather than 48 or 72 hours, as was the case previously.

The interior ministry said almost 114,000 demonstrators gathered across France on Saturday to protest against the government’s handling of the pandemic and continued restrictions on everyday life.

“It’s not that we think the Earth is flat, but we don’t know the long-term effects of these vaccines cobbled together in a hurry,” care assistant Rita, 39, said at a march in the city of Montpellier.

Elsewhere in Europe, Greek officials imposed curfews on the party island of Mykonos and Spanish authorities did likewise in Barcelona and other cities in the northeastern Catalonia region.

EU jabs overtake US

European governments are facing an uphill battle, with the EU’s disease prevention agency warning that infections could rise fivefold across the bloc by August 1.

But the continent also had something to celebrate, with the proportion of people vaccinated topping the US figure for the first time.

Around 55.5 percent have now had a first dose following a sluggish start, compared with 55.4 across the Atlantic.

EU Commissioner Thierry Breton said the achievement validated the EU’s strategy of “remaining open and exporting half of our production to 100+ countries”, vaunting the bloc’s “solidarity” compared with other vaccine makers.

And in Britain, where most of the adult population has now had two jabs, the government is preparing to ease most restrictions.

Quarantine for vaccinated Britons returning from “amber” list countries is due to end on Monday but at the last minute the government decided to retain the status quo for France because of the “persistent presence” of the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa.

While the rule applies only to England for now, devolved governments in Scotland and Wales indicated they were likely to follow suit.

The new looser regime in England, with mask requirements among the rules to be dropped, comes as the UK recorded more than 50,000 cases in a day on Friday and the government said that rate could double in the coming weeks.

However, officials said the high vaccination rate should prevent a spike in deaths and serious illness.

Hajj joy

Among those testing positive was Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who announced on Saturday he had contracted the disease and was isolating.

“I’m grateful that I’ve had two jabs of the vaccine. And so far, my symptoms are very mild,” Javid said via Twitter.

With cases surging, critics say the reopening is a reckless gamble.

“This is a threat not just to England but to the whole world — particularly low- and middle-income countries who have very limited access to vaccines,” a group of international scientists said in a joint statement on Friday.

One poorer country experiencing an infection surge is Senegal, whose national bus operator announced Saturday it would suspend intercity transport.

The announcement comes after the country of 16 million logged a record — 1,366 — of new coronavirus cases on Saturday, almost double the daily record of 733 set on Wednesday.

A new single-day record was also set in Thailand, which had more than 11,300 new infections Sunday, bringing the kingdom’s cumulative cases to more than 400,000. Saturday also saw the single-day death toll reach 141 — a new high.

Three more provinces will be placed under severe restrictions — including a night-time curfew and a ban on gatherings of more than five — that already cover Bangkok and the southern provinces.

Saudi Arabia is allowing crowds to gather for the second downsized hajj since the start of the pandemic.

The kingdom is allowing only 60,000 fully vaccinated residents to take part — a fraction of the pre-pandemic number — as it seeks to repeat last year’s success that saw no virus outbreak during the five-day ritual.

Among the chosen ones this year was Ameen, a 58-year-old Indian oil contractor who was picked for the ritual along with his wife and three adult children.

“We are overjoyed,” said Ameen. “So many of our friends and relatives were rejected.”

French Father Goes On Hunger Strike For Kids ‘Abducted’ By Japanese Wife

For the children allegedly kidnapped by his Japanese wife, a French father goes on hunger strike.

 

 

A Frenchman in Japan who says his children were abducted by their Japanese mother began a hunger strike in Tokyo Saturday, in a protest he hopes will bring international attention to his fight to be reunited with his family. 

“I’ve given everything, I’ve lost my job, my house and my savings in the last three years. I weigh 80 kilograms now, and I’ll give it all until the very last gram,” Vincent Fichot told AFP, sitting at the entrance to a train station in Tokyo, not far from the new Olympic stadium.

Fichot, 39, who has lived in Japan for 15 years, said he will not give up his hunger strike until his children, a boy and a girl aged six and four, are returned to him.

Failing that, he said, “I want the French authorities to show me they are serious and that they really want to defend my kids, and that they will impose sanctions against Japan until Japan agrees to protect my children’s rights.”

His wife has accused him in court of domestic violence, Fichot said, but later “retracted” the claim, and the Japanese justice system now has “nothing to reproach me for”, he said.

“I’ve tried everything, I’ve tried to convince my wife by saying to her that it was not good for the kids,” he added. “Right now I don’t even know if they are alive.”

Joint custody of children in cases of divorce or separation does not exist legally in Japan, where parental abductions are common and often tolerated by local authorities.

No official numbers exist, but rights groups have estimated that about 150,000 minors are forcibly separated from a parent every year in the East Asian archipelago.

Among those are some bi-national children, like those of Fichot, who, having hit a brick wall with Japanese authorities, has now turned to the French state and international bodies.

He plans to continue his hunger strike day and night — and says if police chase him away he will go elsewhere.

Members of a Tokyo-based support committee, which includes other foreign parents in the same situation, will bring him water, clothes, and help him charge his electronic devices.

Fichot also plans to post a short daily video on his Facebook page to publicise his situation and keep followers up to date on his physical condition.

French President Emmanuel Macron will arrive in Tokyo at the end of the month to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games.

During his last visit to the country, Macron spoke out in support of French parents separated from their children in Japan, condemning “situations of distress that are completely unacceptable”.

Japan To Impose COVID-19 Emergency In Tokyo During Olympics

A woman stands in front of the Olympic Rings at dusk in Yokohama on July 2, 2021. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

 

The Japanese government plans to impose a virus state of emergency in Tokyo during the Olympics, reports said Wednesday, meaning spectators could be barred from venues.

The emergency measures — less strict than a blanket lockdown — will be in force until August 22, several Japanese media outlets reported, following a rise in cases less than three weeks before the Games begin.

“The government decided to declare the fourth state of emergency for Tokyo and communicated the decision to the ruling parties,” public broadcaster NHK said.

Kyodo News, citing a senior government official, said it was now likely the Olympics would be held behind closed doors.

The pandemic-postponed 2020 Games will take place under strict anti-infection rules, with overseas fans already banned.

Organisers set a limit last month of 10,000 fans, or half of each venue’s capacity, but recently warned that a fully closed-door Games remained an option as the virus situation worsens.

Japan’s Covid-19 outbreak has not been as severe as in some countries, with around 14,800 deaths, but experts say another wave could stretch medical services as the Games begin.

Participants have already begun arriving in Japan, with 11,000 Olympic athletes from around 200 countries set to take part.

AFP